The Globes, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, tend to pride themselves on pointing to Oscar favorites, but in a year with few clear frontrunners, they did little to help. Steve Jobs, Danny Boyle’s biopic of the Apple founder, had seemed to vanish from contention after faring poorly at the box office, but collected trophies for Best Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) and Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet). The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s grueling tale of survival on the American frontier, won for Best Drama Picture, Best Director, and Best Drama Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), and while DiCaprio is an Oscar favorite, it’s hard to imagine Iñárritu winning the big awards just a year after sweeping them with his previous effort, Birdman. Meanwhile, critical favorites like Spotlight, Carol, and Mad Max: Fury Road all failed to win anything.
Brie Larson was named Best Drama Actress for Room, anointing her the favorite for that Oscar trophy in February. The Comedy film awards largely went to films no one would label as comedy. The Martian, an action thriller set in space, won Best Picture and Best Actor (Matt Damon), while David O. Russell’s biopic Joy won for Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence). Sylvester Stallone’s Best Supporting Actor win for Creed drew a sentimental standing ovation from the crowd, but he forgot to mention his director and co-stars in his speech (a fact he quickly realized and rectified at the show, but after the broadcast had cut to commercial).
While the film awards usually go to Oscar favorites, the Globes’ TV awards are more eclectic. Most of 2016’s winners were from shows few are watching: Amazon’s streaming series Mozart in the Jungle, set in New York’s classical music scene, won for Best Comedy Series and Best Actor (Gael García Bernal); USA’s acclaimed hacker drama Mr. Robot won for Best Drama Series and Best Supporting Actor (Christian Slater); and Rachel Bloom, of the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, won for Best Comedy Actress and excitedly praised her network for supporting a show that had been rejected everywhere else she pitched it. Then Lady Gaga collected a trophy for Lead Actress in the poorly reviewed American Horror Story: Hotel, which seemed to validate the common complaint that the Globes voters prefer star power to quality.
There were some bright moments—like Jamie Foxx rolling his eyes at Quentin Tarantino’s rambling speech for The Hateful Eight’s original score, or Eva Longoria and America Ferrera acidly referring to each other as “Salma” and “Charo” as they introduced an award. Denzel Washington accepted an honorary award with his family on stage, but cut his speech short because he’d left his glasses at his table, a blunder that was one of the more charming moments of the night. Taraji P. Henson, who won Best TV Drama Actress for Empire, took to the stage distributing cookies amongst the crowd, in honor of her character Cookie Lyon. But these highlights were few and far between in a three-hour ceremony that was as forgettable as Gervais’s punchlines.